01st Aug2019

‘The Public’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Emilio Estevez, Alec Baldwin, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Taylor Schilling, Michael Kenneth Williams, Christian Slater | Written and Directed by Emilio Estevez

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Emilio Estevez returns to cinema screens behind the camera with The Public after an eight-year absence following The Way in 2010. Estevez returns with another political venture surrounding a peaceful demonstration during the polar vortex at a public library in Cincinnati. It is comprised of an all-star cast including the likes of Alec Baldwin, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Taylor Schilling, Michael Kenneth Williams, Christian Slater and even Estevez himself as the leading character.

The Public is a terrific cinematic effort from Estevez. Diving deep into a social, political matter that is causing chaos and death all around the US with little interest from the political world that is ultimately causing it. Estevez’ latest venture is a poignant and compelling premise that examines said social issue with tenderness and heart. Thankfully, Estevez holds back no punches and goes for the jugular with how devastating the homelessness epidemic is growing.

It is immediately clear from the beginning that Estevez holds this tormented situation close to his heart. As the film never strays its lane fighting a cause that’s too big or going after any more significant point of political upheaving. The films only intention is to showcase this mistreatment and ignorance of the homelessness epidemic, and thus never exploits the situation as a secondary plot.

Esteves writes and directs his cast with terrific outcomes. The writing, in particular, is never heavy-handed, considering the material it could easily sway towards, obligatory assessments of scandal, however, The Public has a sense of restraint in its screenplay, and for a film that as soon as it starts the viewer somewhat knows where it is heading, it does a sufficient job of delivering an engaging feature. The amount of screen time for every character is well devised. The film produces sufficient weight and moments for each character to stand out with satisfactory adequate stock. With at least a dozen characters which need to provide compelling arcs, or otherwise, the central narrative falls flat on its face, really suffices with how warming and charismatic these characters are crafted and written.

There is not a great deal of tension involved throughout as Estevez, appropriately just as his character contextually acts, defuses any situations of anxiety. A decision that allows the film and its audience to focus on the circumstances of its characters primarily, and not excess fat that the film may entail. Ultimately it dramatically slows the pacing down to a full stop at times; however, it is an appropriate jurisdiction that allows for the film to breathe for a mature and restraint insight to the drama that is unfolding.

The Public is out now on DVD, Digital and Blu-ray in the US. No word on a UK release date as yet.

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